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Buying a House Contingent on Sale of Your Current Home

Selling your home in order to purchase contingent

Buying a House Contingent on Sale of Your Current Home is can be a tricky thing! For one, it requires a good deal of cooperation and, often times, consent by the seller along the way.

Buying a Home Contingent on the Sale of Your Home can be a tricky thing! It requires a good deal of cooperation and, often times, consent by the seller along the way.

It also requires a slew of additional forms and most importantly, the requirement of a full list of folks:

  1. You the buyers

  2. The sellers

  3. The sellers real estate professionals

  4. The lender

  5. Escrow

to all perform their jobs.

Granted, there are parts of Seattle where the real estate market is still too hot for most home buyers to even consider making an offer contingent on the sale of their home. In fact, some purchase and sale agreements in the more active and sought after areas of Seattle have little if any real conditions (or contingencies) to speak of!

All that said, for every HOT time in the market, there comes a time when the market may demand sellers entertain a buyers offer who must first sell their home in order to purchase the sellers home.

Sound confusing? It can be…

What is a Contingent Offer?

A Contingency is nothing more than:

A condition a buyer makes, like an inspection or financial contingency, that gives the buyer recourse to rescind (or otherwise get out of the purchase and sale agreement) in the event that condition is not met or satisfied.

For example, a home buyer who adds an inspection contingency to their offer has the right to inspect the property, including systems that service the property such as well and septic tanks and even terminate the transaction should they deem the inspection unsatisfactory.

The buyer’s ‘Sale of Property Contingency Addendum(NWMLS Form 22B) to the ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement(NWMLS Form 21) states that a home buyer must sell their own home in order to buy the sellers home.

This is one of the more rarely seen conditions simply because it puts the seller in a precarious position. Essentially, the home seller has to have a good deal of faith the home buyer is doing

their part to make their home marketable and salable…two very important factors for any home for sale!

Why is Buying a House Contingent on Sale of Your Current Home even Necessary?

The most common reason for a buyer to enter into a purchase contingent on the sale of their home is a financial need!

Simply put, some buyers can not get a second home loan if they currently have an existing mortgage.

It take Two to TangoREMEMBER: The seller does not need to accept your offer if it is contingent on the sale of the buyer’s property.

Steps to Buying a House Contingent on Sale of Your Current Home

Step 1. Get your offer accepted

This may sound like a ‘no-brainer’ but remember, not every seller is going to be interested in taking a contingent offer. On top of that, Your real estate professional will have to be well versed in the language of the contingency agreement.

Equally important, your real estate broker is more than likely going to need to negotiate with the sellers broker to convince them to consider the buyers offer contingent on the sale of their home.

There’s quite a few moving parts here, finding the right real estate professional who knows how contingencies work is vital.

Step 2. Getting your Home ready to Go to Market

The first (of many) timelines is listing your home. Per the language of the contingency, you have 5 days after mutual acceptance of the agreement to list your property for sale on a multiple listing service (MLS) in the area serving the property with a licensed real estate firm.

This could be a bit tricky if you have some ‘Honey Do’ items or repairs to do before you’re ready to list.

At The Madrona Group, we have a multi-point pre-marketing list of items including shooting a 3D tour, having a professional photographer go through the entire property, getting our staging team to do their thing, mail out ‘JUST LISTED’ postcards throughout the neighborhood as well as a battery of other marketing pieces to do before we go to market.

Getting all that needs to be done to give our sellers the utmost exposure would be quite a logistical challenge in just 5 days.

NOTE: Failure to list the buyers home in the 5 day time period can put them in a dire position essentially waiving the home contingency and all other contingencies including inspection and financial. The buyer would also be required to close in 30 days on top of everything else.

Being prepared to list your property should be a conversation you have with your real estate professional well before you make any contingent offer.

Step 2.5 What to do if the Seller gets an offer after they accepted your Contingent Offer?

This could happen and the buyer should understand their options in this scenario.

One of the conditions for the sellers accepting your contingent offer is they may keep their property on the market.

It does show in the status as ‘Contingent’ rather than ‘Active’ but that means very little to any prospective buyer interested in the property.

Here is the procedure when that takes place…stay with me now, this may get a little confusing

First off, the seller must send the buyer a BUMP NOTICE‘ (NWMLS Form 44). This form serves as notice to the buyer that the seller has entered into a ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement‘ with another buyer.

The buyer now has 3 options. These options are outlined in the BUMP REPLY‘ (NWMLS Form 46).

  1. Buyer sells their property and the contingency is satisfied.

  2. This of course would require the buyer accepting an offer to sell their home and that offer is not itself contingent on the sale or closing of another property! Still with me? Invoking this option would also require the buyer attaching the completed ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement‘. Needless to say, this is an option only to be used in the event buyer enters into a purchase and sale agreement for their home.

  3. Buyer did not sell their property but waives the contingency.

  4. This is a rather risky option to take as the buyer would be risking their earnest money if they do not sell their property in the specified timeline set forth in the ‘Buyers Property Contingency Addendum(NWMLS Form 22B). Choosing this option also waives all other contingencies such as Inspection and Financial. This all but assures forfeiture of the Earnest Money should the deal fail to close.

  5. Buyer’s property not sold and agreement terminated.

  6. This is the most pragmatic choice for the buyer as they retain their earnest money and simply walk away.

Step 3. You Got an Offer on your Home…NOW WHAT?

Before you can get mutual acceptance on that offer, the seller has a few things to say about it. Well, they really only need to give the buyer written consent on the offer for the following:

  1. The buyers themselves are also contingent on the sale of their property

  2. The closing date is less than 30 days or more than 45 days

NOTE: Not getting sellers written consent if either of these conditions apply means the transaction is terminated and the Earnest Money is forfeited to the sellers.

If neither item 1 or 2 are a part of the offer on the buyers house, we are now on to giving the sellers notice we’ve received an offer.

Step 4. Waiving and Satisfying the Contingency

When the buyer has reached this point, there’s really only the matter of satisfying the ‘Buyers Property Contingency Addendum‘ and proceeding with the ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement‘ on the property.

The buyer must now give notice on ‘CONTINGENCY PROPERTY NOTICE (NWMLS Form 90K) by checking the first box. Yep, another form.

This form is also the same one the buyer would use in the event the purchase and sale of their home failed to close. See check boxes 2 and 3 above.


I can tell you, as a real estate professional of nearly 20 years, the market will cycle as markets do. When that happens and sellers no longer enjoy multiple offers and there are more buyers than homes to sell, the need to entertain an offer contingent on the buyer selling their home will be a reality.

And since timing the market is impossible, that time may come sooner than any of us are prepared for. But, when it does, having the right tools to know how to execute buying a home contingent on the sale of your home should only be a phone call away.

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